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Rehoming the perfect pet: who chooses who?

Both times I have experienced rehoming an animal from NAWT, the perfect pet found me. 

The first rescue I rehomed was a gorgeous older staffie called Jack. I got the chance to get to know him well before rehoming him, having worked at the Berkshire centre as an Animal Care Assistant.

Jack bore a striking resemblance to a previous family pet called Mickey, a staffie that loved playing fetch, and leaping into streams and lakes. When Jack arrived at the centre, the first thing I thought of was Mickey, and that was an instant bond I couldn’t break with Jack. They both had their own personalities, but two things that were very similar in them both were their love of cuddles, and their staffie smile.

This meant that time was needed to have a lot of conversations with my partner about how we would fit a pet into our lifestyle. We both worked full time, and needed to think about letting Jack out at lunch, and making sure we had the time to give to a family pet.

There were other things to think about as well, like who would look after him when we go away for weekends, if we could not take him? On the other hand, could we afford the care of an aging animal? My partner hadn’t owned a pet before, so this was a big change in lifestyle for him. We spent a lot of time looking into pet insurance and speaking to family and neighbours about their potential dog-sitting abilities.

It was not long until we decided that we could offer Jack the home he deserved. Rehoming an older animal was perfect for our circumstances. We didn’t know what we would be doing in five years time, and if we would still be able to offer the right home in the future. Having an older animal meant we didn’t have to think about the prospect of still having a pet in 15 years’ time.

Jack came home with us, went straight to his bed, and curled up as though he had always been there. Que another flash to how similar Jack and Mickey were to each other. I know not all dogs settle in as quickly as Jack did, but it was a comfort to know that he found this match between owner and pet as perfect as we did.
Life did change a lot whilst Jack was with us.

He saw my partner and I get married, and he was there when we brought our son home from the hospital. I knew Jack really well at this point, and even though I was unsure if he had come across newborns before, we had prepared him well for the new addition, and he took it all in his stride. Although he never did get the hang of walking alongside the pushchair, rather than in front of it and getting run over by the wheels. Sadly, old age got the better of Jack when my son was two years old. He was with us a lot longer than I originally considered, and we valued every minute we had as a family. We still chuckle over some of the quirks he had.

Jack

Having worked at the centre that specifically cares for older animals, I will always have a soft spot for them. Again, the next residents to take up placement in our household found us! A cat, called Cartman, needed end-of-life care. He had an enlarged heart, and even though he was well at the time, he only had about six months to live.

I knew we would have the right space for Cartman. We had since moved to a bigger house, with a bigger garden. The perfect space for a cat with medical needs to relax, and enjoy the home life. We knew from his history that he had grown up with children, so having a three year old in the house shouldn’t bother him. Cartman arrived at the centre with his sister, Pippi.

They were both in the cat room when we went to meet Cartman and we fell in love with both of them. We didn’t want to separate them after having spent the last 12 years together. Even though Pippi did nip my husband, we were still eager to take her home. My son, having grown up around animals, knows how to give them space when needed, but maybe my husband needed some training.

Once our decision was made, we were eager to get the process started, so Cartman could settle into his early retirement. It didn’t take long to get the house ready, and have our home check before taking them to live with us. My son and I went and picked them up from the centre, he even helped one of the animal care assistants carry Pippi to the car, and he spent the entire car journey reassuring them, even though they were really settled in their cat carriers.

The cats arrived! It was clear they were eager for attention, they had been in the centre for a couple of months, and were keen to catch up on human TLC. You couldn’t sit down without a cat leaping up on you. Once they had been with us for a few weeks, and were allowed to go outside, this settled down. Pippi would still bite on occasion, but never once bit my son, so this was something we could cope with. Once we got to know each other better, the biting settled, we just needed to learn how to communicate with each other. 

Cartman sadly passed away before Christmas that year, but he had a fantastic summer, making the most of family life. He would always be around in the day, and in the evening would go somewhere a few fences down the garden. We would call the cats in every evening, and we could hear him thumping over three fences.

Maybe he found the perfect evening hunting patch that he never shared with Pippi. It was clear when his time came, with a very definite change in his demeanour, you could tell he was in pain. We took him to the vet, and were with him as he was put to sleep. It’s heart-breaking, but we know we gave him every home comfort he needed, and we were with him to the very end. I was concerned how losing a pet would affect my son now that he was older and understood more, but, in reality, death is something that you can never really shield from children, and is a hard lesson for anyone to learn about.

Pippi is still with us, having settled into being the only cat in the household. She doesn’t bite anymore, and is slowing down, she is around 14 now. My son is the first to tell people to stop stroking her, knowing when she has had enough. She likes to sleep in my wardrobe full of clean clothes, and on carefully placed pillows in the sunlight, and rarely spends time outside, unless we’re out there with her.

She likes her home comforts.  

Both times, the perfect pets found us. We would love to take another dog on, but Pippi would not appreciate a canine companion. So rather than homing, I keep sharing the stories of other animals that need homes, in the hope the right person will read their story, and realise a rescue pet has found them.

Rachel Mattioni – Fundraising Assistant

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